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Self-Driving Shuttle Service for High-Speed Rail Station in Taiwan

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) announced the launch of the self-driving electric bus shuttle service between the Zhubei City downtown area and the nearby high-speed rail station. The shuttle service constitutes the first commercial route for a self-driving bus in Taiwan and marks an important milestone in the development of smart public transport.

The MOEA stated that Taiwan’s traffic environment is more complex than in other western countries due to its high traffic flow and vehicle density. This gives Taiwan’s Information and communications technology (ICT) industries, automotive electronics suppliers and transport operators a competitive strength in developing related technology and services.

MOEA’s Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT) indicated that the new shuttle bus has three features:

  • Taiwan’s First Self-Driving Commercial Operation on Crowded Roads: This is the first example in Taiwan in the commercial operation of a self-driving vehicle on a road with a mixture of vehicles. Tests were carried out on roads used jointly by automobiles and motorcycles in urban areas. These experiments improved the functionality of the computing system that processes people, vehicle, and road data. This better reflects the unique complexities of Taiwan’s road system and marks an enormous breakthrough, as previous operations of self-driving vehicles were limited to suburban areas or on urban roads with dedicated bus lanes.
  • Smart Collision Avoidance: The bus operates using ITRI-developed iRoadsafe V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) technology, integrating data from communications, sensors, traffic signals and other sources. This solution is tantamount to having an eye in the sky that boosts operational safety. The technology won Silver at the 2019 Edison Awards and the Industry Award at the ITS World Congress.
  • Links with Smart Bus Shelters: Passengers can easily access bus schedules, and the shelters offer two-way communication. The traffic control centre can detect the flow of people waiting via a camera installed in the shelter, enabling real-time adjustment of bus frequency and monitoring the path of the self-driving bus.

Hsinchu is home to a comprehensive technology industry chain via the Hsinchu Science Park. The development of self-driving cars provides innovative services for local transportation needs and enhances the value of smart technology industries. The route will likely become part of the overall urban bus network, which can solve gaps in the public transport network and shortages of bus drivers. Hsinchu County Magistrate welcomes locals and visitors to come and experience the unique experience of riding a self-driving bus.

With the support of DoIT, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) developed the Surrounding Sensing Subsystem for autonomous vehicles and collected a large imagery training data that can be used for the unique road environment in Taiwan and Asia. ITRI has also established an industrial partnership program that linked ten manufacturers and created a self-driving vehicle industry chain.

ITRI has partnered with automotive electronics manufacturers in the building of ten self-driving buses. This year, ITRI will have three of electronic buses participate in the experimental plan. ITRI hopes that its key technology will assist even more firms involved in the Internet of Vehicles, vehicle sensors, and automotive electronics industries to branch into the self-driving vehicle industry, creating smarter lifestyles for the future.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, this initiative is in line with a “Smart City Taiwan” project to create livable, business-facilitating, and innovation-fostering communities. Smart cities embed smart technology including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and other services to make living more efficient and accessible for its residents. Smart City Taiwan is changing the concept of the traditional city through the integration of smart applications and other technology.

The transportation and technology industry has become one of the primary focal points of the government’s goals in the next five years. These technologies upgrade the transportation services and they will also minimise the time spent looking for a parking spot, eventually decreasing air pollution. The goal of this implementation is also to create new business opportunities and transform the transportation network’s digital infrastructure.

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